The difference between counselling and psychotherapy is mainly about time and depth of engagement. Counselling tends to be short term, weeks to months, psychotherapy months to years. Both are about understanding and change, but with psychotherapy the aim is to change deeper seated structures of the self, which takes longer. Counselling can turn into psychotherapy, or not, it all depends on what you want for yourself.
Generally, therapy is about being supported to become more aware of how we function, through investigating what is driving us to be the way we are, then understanding and integrating those insights. Change happens, not by attempting to change directly (which rarely works), but through awareness, understanding and taking responsibility for ourselves. We can usually only do this through being supported to deepen our awareness of our actual here and now experience, which is about opening up and facing our feelings, challenging our thoughts and attending to our bodies. With our head, heart and body communicating better we have greater presence and the ability to observe ourselves, this enables more awareness and insight and understanding. As part of this we can also re-find our creativity. Therapy can support these processes, which in turn helps us to access the deep wisdom we all have that is always trying to move us towards wholeness (just like the force that heals our bodies), that wants to repair our insecurity and develop towards our freedom and our potential.
Our difficulties in living are often about how, at some level, we can’t face what life is presenting us with, we turn away from the here and now and react based on our past patterns of avoiding trauma (in its widest sense). Trauma in its widest sense affects most people, it forces the self to desensitize in order to avoid being overwhelmed by the hurt, fear or distress that was unbearable at the time. As part of this and in order to keep it buried, we unconsciously split the connections between our head, heart and body. But this “adjustment” becomes a deep habit which limits our relationship to our lives, limits our ability to get our needs met and our ability to grow and develop. It leads to conflicted and confused ways of being, because these parts cannot then communicate properly with each other we don’t know ourselves. We don’t know what we feel, we can’t access the wisdom of our body, or we give up thinking, or some combination of all three. We are then stuck with all sorts of compulsive compensatory motivations and reactions.
Avoiding the hurt, distress, pain, fear, grief that we keep locked away is what causes us to get caught into insecurity with all its various forms. It makes us fearful of what we have not been able to bear, and repressed feelings always turn sour and negative when kept in the dark. This causes us to make ourselves ‘bad’, ‘inadequate’ etc., resulting in our over re-activity and self-destructiveness, anxiety and depression. These compensatory habits usually cause us to identify with only one part of ourselves, either our thinking over dominates, or we are “over emotional”, or our bodies take all our attention. Despite our best efforts, life is always pressing our ‘buttons’ and causing us to react in ways we do not want. To heal we need the presence and wisdom of the self that can only flow from re-integrating our heart, head and body. Therapy can really help with this task.
Therapy is about being supported to gradually face what was, and still is, stuck and unbearable within us. People have enormous innate wisdom and that wisdom is always trying to find a way to heal us, our inner conflict exists partly because of this. So, undoing the knots we tied ourselves up in, releases this wisdom and we can start participating consciously in our evolving development, towards living ever more fully and satisfyingly in the “here and now”.
Throughout this website I have tried to share my understanding and enthusiasm for this psycho-spiritual form of therapy. It has a clear understanding of the processes of change and development through deepening our self-awareness and taking responsibility for ourselves. Whilst therapy supports us to heal and grow, in the end it is only you who can know your truth and heal yourself, choice is an essential part of our process. So, therapy needs to be both support and challenge to really help on this journey towards our freedom and realising our amazing potential as human beings.